Guanajuato’s Mummies are Alive

By Antonio De Jesús Aguado

The mummies of Guanajauto have been the characters in several movies and, after almost 150 years, they have come back stronger than ever to promote the state through the movie La leyenda de las momias de Guanajuato (The Legend of the Mummies of Guanajuato). In addition, an audiovisual exhibition about the making of the film is coming to the Guanajuato Bicentenario Park.

In 1861, a cholera epidemic killed thousands of people in Guanajuato. Many of the corpses were buried in the cemetery of Santa Paula. Later, since the relatives did not clean the tombs or pay the taxes to keep the bodies there, they were exhumed. Those who performed the exhumations realized that some of the corpses were dried but had not disintegrated; a museum was set up later to exhibit them. Experts explain that the mummification in that cemetery is a natural process caused by the land properties. Those who know say that once the corpses were buried, the disintegration process stopped, and the gases generated by the liquids inflated the bodies to three times their normal size. Later, the body just dried out.

The wide-open position of their mouths can lead people to believe that they died horrendous deaths. However, there is an explanation for that: there is cartilage joining the jaws which gets soft after death, and the lower jaw just falls, giving the faces that aspect.

The mummies are an icon of Guanajauto. Since the first one was exhumed, they have left a strong impression. In 1970, the wizened bodies traveled the world through Mexican movies.

This year, the mummies come to life again with the animated film “La leyenda de las momias de Guanjuato.” The movie tells the story of Leo San Juan, Don Andrés, Teodora, and the Alebrije—heroes of “La Leyenda de la Nahuala” (2007) and “La Leyenda de la Llorona” (2011). The heroes arrive in Guanajuato and realize that there is something strange going on. The mummies are alive and, if that is not enough, they have kidnapped their friend Xóxhitl. The adventures of the characters take place in the main touristic attractions of Guanajuato, including the mines. The movie will premiere in more than 600 movie theaters across the country on October 31. The film lasts 86 minutes.

Fernando Olivera Rocha, Secretary of  Touristic Development, says movies are the best way to make people fall in love with the attractions of the state. Olivera also said that to celebrate the fact that the movie was based in Guanajuato, the producers, along with the state government, will hold a special exhibition in the Parque Guanajuato Bicentenario, where visitors will have access to the original storyboards of the film, voiceovers, documents that support the investigation, and much more of the material used by Anima Studios for making the movie. The exhibition will open on November 1 this year.

Hidden Moon is a movie starring Mexican actress Ana Serradilla and American actor Wes Benley; it was also filmed in the state and was strongly supported by the state government.


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